Most of us know that regularly drinking tea has an incredible lasting impact on our wellness. We've all seen the numerous studies backing tea’s ability to boost our immune system, help fight colds, help us get to sleep at night, and fight off inflammation. 

However, have you ever considered what herbal teas can provide digestive benefits and "gut health"?

How The Polyphenol Content and Antioxidant Effects In Tea Can Aid Gut Health

You’ve probably heard the term “gut health” before, as it's become quite trendy in the wellness industry over the past couple of years. If you have, then most likely you've learned that “good” gut health is quite advantageous. And, well, that is very true. 

Gut health” describes the operation of the gastrointestinal system and the balance of tiny bacteria and other microbes in your gastrointestinal tract. 

Gastrointestinal functions are often just associated with the digestive processing of nutrients, but they also act as a disease-fighting system and communication center. Your gut influences more than just your digestion. Your gut operates a key role in overall wellness, affecting the activity of most of the functions in your body.

There is increasing evidence showing that a healthy gut microbiome can positively affect everything from your brain and hormonal health, to your immunity. Poor gut health has widespread implications that may negatively affect the brain, increase the risk of disease, and cause symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

National Institutes of Health has found that in America, digestive diseases affect 60 million to 70 million people in the country. Signs of an unhealthy gut may include, chronic pain, anxiety, weight loss, diabetes, inflammation, lethargy, insomnia, migraines, etc.

So, we know that a healthy gut is vital, but how do we keep it healthy?

For most, when they think about natural gut health aids, they'll think of probiotics and fermented foods. Of course, whilst probiotics are a crucial part of gut health, we've been missing out on one essential "gut health" aiding substance... polyphenols!

You can learn more about probiotic gut health power and the best source of them, over on our other post on probiotics, by clicking here!

What are polyphenols?

Polyphenols are micronutrient reducing agents found in plants. They're greatly beneficial to the human body and are packed with antioxidants and health benefits. 

There are over 8,000 types of polyphenols, including flavonoids and phenolic acid. 

Most polyphenols work as antioxidants and have been shown to help in preventing or reversing damaged cells, harmed by aging, pollutants, and negative lifestyle choices.

Studies suggest that diets with long-term consumption of plant polyphenols protect against the development of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even certain cancers. 

Another benefit of a high-polyphenol diet that is lesser-known, is its incredible beneficial influence on your gut microbiome.

Polyphenol-rich foods are excellent for improving overall gut balance. Why is this? 

When you consume polyphenols, in the small intestine, only 5–10% of the overall ingested polyphenols are absorbed. The remaining 90-95% polyphenols accumulate in the colon to be broken down into bioactive metabolites by our gut bacteria, which then apply their important effects on your mind and body. 

Effects of polyphenols on our gut microbiome?

Over 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, live inside your digestive system which is made up of the gastrointestinal tract. Collectively, these bacteria are known as the gut microbiota.

The bacteria in your gut microbiota are negatively altered by many modern habits and practices like antibiotic use, the Western diet, and leading a high-stress lifestyle - all promote gut bacterial imbalances, causing a problem called dysbiosis.

Gut microbial imbalance aka dysbiosis refers to a bacterial, sometimes even fungal, imbalance on or inside your body. This occurs in any of our mucus membranes, such as in the gut flora, lungs, mouth, and nose. 

Gut dysbiosis can include a loss of beneficial microbial input, an increase in the proportion of small bowel bacteria, and an expansion of benevolent microbes to pathogenic ones.

When your gut microbes are thrown out of whack, harmful yeast or bacteria can begin to populate. This causes issues like chronic inflammation, immune system dysfunction, and depression.

One of the best things we can do to counteract negatively altered gut bacteria and increase digestive and overall health is to balance our gut bacteria. Luckily, polyphenols do just that. 

Polyphenols are seriously gutsy micronutrients. Research has shown that polyphenols act as a prebiotic-type substance. What does this mean, you may ask? Well, it's believed that polyphenols feed the Bifidobacteria in your gut, promoting the growth of healthy probiotic bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.

Also, the antioxidant values of some polyphenols may give them the ability to treat inflammatory gut diseases.

Another amazing benefit of polyphenols on your gut is their special connection with Akkermansia muciniphila. Akkermansia muciniphila is a beneficial microbe that helps to maintain our gut lining and accounts for up to 4% of our intestinal bacteria. This microbe correlates with obesity prevention, balanced glucose metabolism, and body mass.

Furthermore, different varieties of polyphenols may have the capability to reduce the population of different types of problematic species (think: foodborne organisms) in the gut. Polyphenols do this by diminishing biofilms, crowding them out by increasing the growth of commensal species, or by starving them of their food supply.

Polyphenols also contribute to the structure of our gut lining, together with nourishing healthy microbes and providing a helpful layer that acts as an adhesion.

Tea and Polyphenols

Circling back to tea... we've talked a lot about creating a balanced gut microbiome and the importance of the gut aiding polyphenols, but what does all this have to do with tea’s potential to support the wellness of your gastrointestinal system?

Well, it's all about those polyphenols. Herbs and spices are actually the richest sources of polyphenols.

Herbal tea leaves are overflowing with polyphenols, antioxidants, and other amazing herbal compounds that can help your digestive enzymes work efficiently and balance your gut microbes. 

Like we just learned, the polyphenols in tea act as prebiotics and antioxidants work antioxidant magic on your gut lining. 

Tea is probably one of the most researched high-polyphenol foods out there, with many studies having backed the prebiotic effects of tea extracts and leaves coming from the polyphenol compounds. Polyphenols in tea include catechins, theaflavins, tannins, and flavonoids. 

While green tea is often said to be the richest herbal source of polyphenols, studies show that most plain teas carry around the same levels of these chemicals, with the exception of decaffeinated tea. So, if you're looking for the best source of polyphenols from tea, then we'd recommend you just sip on your favorite (non-decaffeinated) herbal tea. 

If you want to sip on as many health benefits as you can in a warm cup of deliciously flavorful tea, here at Wise Ape Tea we make bold and fun flavored, wellness-inspired, adaptogenic, herbal tea blends. We have exciting health-driven teas like pineapple and black tea, turmeric and coconut tea, and chocolate and mint tea. Click here to learn all about these amazing flavor teas with super amazing health benefits.

Keep Your Gut Healthy

Our microbiome is a diverse microbial ecosystem, associated with many vital functions, impacting most bodily functions in your body

Gut health is crucial. It’s essential to keep this complex system in balance to sustain these vital processes. When balanced correctly, a healthy gut has the potential to improve digestion, increase energy levels, support weight management, and support your immune system. 

A balanced gut microbiome is achieved when you follow a healthy lifestyle and what you consume will actually make a huge difference. Consuming polyphenol-rich foods regularly will keep that microbiota balanced and lead you on your way to a vibrant gut! Moreover, we now know herbal tea leaves are abundant with polyphenols. so, let's get sipping on tea and work on keeping our guts in top-notch balance.

Discover boldly flavored teas with amazing health benefits, here at Wise Ape tea.

How The Polyphenol Content and Antioxidant Effects In Tea Can Aid Gut Health

This informative article is written, by Sophia Mckenzie. Sophia is head content creator and writer, for several premium websites, where her expertise lie in health, nutrition, and wellness. Her content is heavily focused on providing and sharing doable solutions to help people truly thrive, and live their happiest, healthiest, fulfilled life.